GM Alireza Firouzja played in both Titled Tuesday tournaments on October 18, scoring 18/22 overall before winning the late event. They were his first games on Chess.com since April 22, 2021. The early event was won by GM-elect Tuan Minh Le with the rare score of 10.5/11.
GM Hikaru Nakamura finished second in both events while repeating the experiment run by GM Magnus Carlsen the week prior, opening with the two-square g-pawn push in both tournaments.
Other than the return of Firouzja, the big story early was Minh Le starting with a perfect 9/9. He was the only player to punish Nakamura’s dubious opening, winning with the black pieces in their eighth-round game.
Instead of chasing the perfect 11/11, Minh Le drew in four moves in round 10. Nakamura won, setting up a two-player race in the last round: Minh Le on 9.5 points, Nakamura on nine, and no one else more than eight. Minh Le faced GM Dmitry Andreikin; Nakamura faced GM David Paravyan.
Nakamura won his game, putting some pressure on Minh Le to win as well, although tiebreaks were likely going to favor the Vietnamese player.
Minh Le offered Andreikin a draw immediately, which the Russian player declined, needing a win to have a chance to place. The contestants played to an equal position but both fell under 10 seconds on the clock before Andreikin succumbed to time (as we all do, really).
The 10.5 score has only happened four times previously (not counting the perfect 11), but also twice in three weeks and three times in the last three months. Technically, Minh Le was the first non-GM to do it, but he should officially receive his title any day now.
October 18 Titled Tuesday | Early | Final Standings (Top 20)
|1||11||IM||@wonderfultime||Tuan Minh Le||3023||10.5||73.5|
(Full final standings here.)
Minh Le won the $1,000 prize for first place with Nakamura taking the $750 second-place prize. The $350 for third place went to GM Vincent Keymer with the $200 for fourth place heading to GM Jose Martinez. The $100 prizes went to GM Grigoriy Oparin in fifth place and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, whose 7/11 score was the highest among the women in the field.
Firouzja finished in a tie for seventh with 8.5 points out of 11 in the early tournament, but he was just getting warmed up. In the late event, he and Nakamura were the last players with a perfect score after six rounds.
That set up what could have been an epic matchup in round seven. Instead, Nakamura played his 1.g4 move and offered a draw on move 11, which Firouzja accepted. After both won again in round eight, Firouzja achieved some separation in the next set of games, checkmating GM Oleksandr Bortnyk in the ninth round while Nakamura only made a draw with IM Mykola Bortnyk.
The two would only combine for one more win in the event, drawing their other three. The win belonged to Nakamura in the final round, returning the top of the standings back into a tie.
Firouzja held the tiebreak advantage by less than two points, but hold it he did. And with that, the world #4 could consider his return to Chess.com, after an 18-month hiatus, to be a success.
October 18 Titled Tuesday | Late | Final Standings (Top 20)
|18||100||FM||@Nf3c5||Iung Alicio de O. Pinheiro||2661||8||46|
(Full final standings here.)
Firouzja earned $1,000 for his victory. Nakamura accepted another $750 as consolation, totaling $1,500 on the day despite his opening choices. GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan won $350 for third place, GM Baadur Jobava $200 for fourth, and GM Matthias Bluebaum $100 for fifth. The $100 women’s prize went to Ukrainian IM Yuliia Osmak.
Titled Tuesday is a weekly event Chess.com hosts every week for titled players. There are two 11-round Swiss tournaments each Tuesday, starting at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/17:00 Central European and 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time/23:00 Central European.